The Houston Dynamo lost their first match of the 2018 season in a 2-1 home loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday. Alberth Elis scored his first goal of the season in the defeat, one of the positives La Naranja can take from this match.
Here are three things we learned:
1. La Panterita on the prowl
Alberth Elis picked up right where he left off last week – blazing past defenders with ease and proving to be a constant threat throughout the match. La Panterita opened his 2018 account in the 39th minute to tie the match.
Around the five minute mark, Elis provided a key pass to Andrew Wenger in what could’ve been déjà vu of the first goal against Atlanta United in the season opener. Elis improved last week's performance with one additional shot, seven on the day, and a higher passing accuracy of 79.2% – up just over 16% from the previous match.
Dynamo fans should not have any worries when it comes to Elis as he looks primed for his best year yet at 22 years old. Saturday’s result may not have gone the team’s way, but more often than not the Dynamo will be in good shape if Elis continues to play like he's done so far.
2. Bienvenido Tomás!
Houston’s other designated player, Tomás Martínez, returned to the starting lineup after missing the first match of the year due to suspension. He welcomed himself to the new season by picking up his first assist with composure inside the box on Elis’ goal.
Martínez provided a total of 33 successful passes and was the orchestrator high up the field for the Dynamo. The Argentine playmaker only featured for 68 minutes as head coach Wilmer Cabrera likely wanted to ease him into the rigors of an official match after missing out on the opener.
The Dynamo’s No. 10 will will be looked upon to provide a calming presence in midfield, especially as the team looks to improve its record in away games and break down bunkered defenses in the final third. The biggest positive from Saturday was seeing the team’s two designated players connect in key situations.
3. Still work to be done
It’s normal to still be hashing out some details this early in the season. The team is only entering their second year under Wilmer Cabrera and, despite Saturday's result, there are many positives to take from the way the team has performed so far.
The Dynamo controlled the majority of the match and generated several quality chances that could have added another goal or two on a better finishing night (or without the heroics of Vancouver goalkeeper Stefan Marinović). Despite the disappointment of a rare home loss, Saturday's match was a learning opportunity for the team for the remaining 32 matches this season.
As Cabrera said after the match, the Dynamo “aren't the best team for beating Atlanta United but we're also not the worst team for losing against Vancouver Whitecaps.” The Colombian manager knows full well where his team has yet to get better and will look to make the proper adjustments throughout the week as the team prepares for their first away trip of the season.
Up next is D.C. United on Saturday at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland (12:30 p.m., KUBE 57). The Dynamo will be looking to get a positive result against a team that yielded them three points away from home last season.